Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.

Aging-In-Place expert Louis Tenenbaum, talks about legislation to support home modifications for older adults.

June 15, 2022 Janet Engel Season 1 Episode 15
Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.
Aging-In-Place expert Louis Tenenbaum, talks about legislation to support home modifications for older adults.
Show Notes Transcript

The bulk of our existing home inventory was built in the 1950"s for young and growing families. These homes do not meet the needs of an aging population, many of whom live alone.  In order to age with dignity in our home and remain in our community, we need to plan for the future and identify solutions that will effectively reduce fall risk, increase accessibility and function. Louis Tenenbaum, a speaker, consultant,  writer, and founder and president of the HomesRenewed Coalition, is proposing the government provide financial incentives in the form of tax breaks and penalty free withdrawals from investments to help pay for eligible home modifications that will  help keep older adults safe and thriving as they age. HomesRenewed is leading the research for smart, cost-effective policy that reduces the cost of updating homes. Please listen to learn more about how you can help pass the bi-partisan Home Modification and Accessibility ACT H.R. 7676 by writing to your local congressperson and senator. 


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Janet:

Thank you for being with us today. We have Louis Tenenbaum. I'm very excited to have him on the show. He is a former carpenter and a contractor. He was the first person to do an aging in place remodel all the way back in 1988. He is a leading thinker consultants speaker on aging in place. He is also the co-founder of homes, renewed coalition. He wrote a white paper that was published by the MetLife Institute called aging in place 2.0 rethinking solutions to the home care challenge. In 2016, he was named a next avenue influencer. In aging, which is pretty amazing. And in 2016, he won the hive award from the building industry. And today he is with us to talk about a bipartisan bill that is called home modification and accessibility act H R 7 6 7 6. Louis. Thank you for being with us

Louis:

today. It's my absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, Janet. Yes.

Janet:

So I wanted to first start talking about your work and aging in place and how your career started. And how it has led to the making of policy. So why don't you take the

Louis:

mic? Okay. So this all kind of started for me. I was a contractor working in the DC Metro area, being a remodeling contractor. And was asked to remodel a bathroom for a young man, 12 years old, who was paraplegic and was coming out, going to come out of rehab. I asked his mom what she needed a carpenter for. And she said, oh, he was independent. He's 12 years old. He was independent in the bathroom before he was. And when he comes home from rehab, I want him to be independent in the bathroom. I don't want to go in the bathroom with my 12 year old son. And this is 1988 pre-internet I had really no idea what to do. I did some research. I remodeled the bathroom, not quite what I would have done today, but I saw that he was independent in the bathroom and I saw how significant it was for this family that he had that independence and they didn't have to take. So, that was a total turn on for me about what I'd done with my hammer and saw. And a few years later, I read an article about the age wave in some remodeling magazine and said, wow, I could get some of this, a good feeling and carve out a niche for myself as a contractor so that I wouldn't, I would just have a little specialty. I was lucky. I lived in my, in Montgomery county, Maryland, outside Washington, DC. And they had a really good kind of robust meeting program going on for the senior service providers in the area. And I started to join those meetings. And after a couple of years, they started to trust me and didn't think I was just there to rip off older customers and they would all say, oh, it's such a good idea what you're doing, but nobody ever called. I mean, so I wasn't doing it. I was mostly talking about. And that went on through some of the nineties and I eventually was teaching some courses for some federal grants teaching the OTs and contractors and designers and people like that around the country on some federal grants and eventually working with AARP and NHB national association of home builders. At the national endowment for the arts, where we conceived of the caps program, certified aging in place specialist program, which is still operated by the. Home builders association. And I was one of the first teachers for that and the subject matter expert and, and it, it kept moving like that. So there was greater interest. There are other courses, CEAC and clip and, and other courses NARI started programs, but still the question remains. If this is such a good idea, why doesn't anyone really do it? And at the time I kind of got my chops as a special contractor working in this area by dealing with families, with children with special needs, cerebral palsy, also people with Ms. Parkinson's spinal cord injuries, amputation post-polio syndrome, multiple systems atrophy Lou Gehrig's disease ALS and, and getting my chops. But all of those things are reactive. All of those things are reactive and that, and the hard part about that. So picture when you're coming out of discharge, you're, you're driving home and you think, Ooh, how I, how are we going to get in the house? You have to start calling a contractor right then, or a designer or a therapist to help you make selections and decisions. And the fact is it's really hard at that time to do it well, to get all the things ordered that you need and so forth. So, what happened was. The question remains. How do you get people to be kind of proactive about this? In 2015, I was riding on a bus having worked with a company at some people in New York, from a company called HEWI on their product line for this field. And I said, well, there's policy involved with all these things and how can I get some policy? How can we get some policy for our area? And I also saw that people were buying hybrid cars and installing solar collectors because of. Policy, because there was an incentive that encouraged people to be doing this stuff. So I thought about how we could get some policy for us. And, and that's what led to this bill. HR 7, 6, 7, 6 with. Would incentivize us in much the same way that we're incentivized to buy a hybrid or electric car would incentivize us to update our homes in advance of it. It could certainly be reactive as well. The monies could be made available to people who need it, but it would also start hopefully encouraging people to be proactive. And now that comes from the fact that. We don't plan very much and very well people have a great deal of trouble picturing themselves into the future. And so when you say to someone, you should do this because you may become frail, you should do this because you may become a burden on your family members. That that's not a really good way to encourage people to do things, because it's not just that they're in denial. It's not really that at all. It's just that they are. Unable to picture themselves into some different state, even though grandma had this problem or aunt Becky had this problem, they're really unable to picture themselves. So the idea would be that. You could come in or a contractor designer could come into somebody who's already planning to remodel their house and probably wants to stay there because 88% of people do. Right. But that this would encourage you to do it because it would be less expensive. And that would be the pitch is, Hey, there's a less expensive way to design your house to remodel your house rather than you should do this to avoid falling down. Sorry to be so long-winded. No.

Janet:

I agree. That's a great strategy because obviously the first one doesn't work. So providing financial incentives, just like I remember I read in your aging in place two point or white paper that they're similar to providing incentives for energy star appliances or for installing. Solar panels on your roof, which now you see very frequently as you drive by neighborhoods that it certainly gives people a reason to make these changes, especially if are already thinking about making these changes and you're so right. Okay. How being reactive is such a terrible way to go about this, because it is very stressful and often you can't even get what you need when you're being reactive. You have to just get whatever is available to you. Whether you're talking about services or equipment, or if you're going down the road where you're hiring a contractor, that's even more complicated. So it just ends up being a very stressful process. And that's what I experienced working in home health, because that was the population that I worked with. People that had either fallen and broken a hip, or they had suffered a stroke some kind of life-changing event that really changed their function and they weren't able to adjust to. And the family wasn't able to adjust to it either.

Louis:

Absolutely. It's great. It's great that you have all that experience that has brought you to this because it primes you to be a great spokesperson on this with your podcasts.

Janet:

Oh, well, thank you. And that's why I am doing it. And it took many years cause I worked in home health about 11 years before I did this. But yeah, it took many years of doing this, that I realized that. Other people can benefit from these services that I provide without having to have a catastrophic event happened in their lives. Wouldn't that be

Louis:

great. Right. And at the same time we see that on some levels, the solar collectors you see are really just kind of updating the infrastructure with the, the, the world has changed. Our understanding of, of low carbon footprint has changed. And that makes sense. Just kind of beef up our infrastructure and in not much different from remember how you, may not remember you're younger, but you used to drive through a toll booth and hand someone a ticket and some money. Right. And then what is the easy pass technology emerged? And they changed the way the toll toll booths work. So we are always changing whether it's because the, the car changes as a technology or. The little thing on your windshield changes, we're changing the infrastructure to meet the technology. And in this case, we're changing the infrastructure to meet the reality of the demographics, because the fact is that life expectancy in this country in 19, in 17, 76 was 32 years. And in 1900, it was 47 years old in 1935 when social security came in, right with a payment at 65 life expectancy was only 61. We weren't really planning to pay this many people for this long as we do now that people live from 65 to 80 and similarly through out the The whole period of, of even social security. So our biggest housing boom was in 1950. People didn't live to 80 in 1950. Now that we know that people's lives really change in terms of mobility at around age 75. That's what we need to get ahead of that. And we need to change out the housing stock because the next generations. Even older and, and maybe mobility changes will start to occur at 80. I don't know. So many of my friends have new hips, new knees, new shoulders that we need the housing infrastructure as a nation, not as individuals, but as a nation to really catch up with the demographics. And that's partly what this is.

Janet:

Yes. And now that you mentioned the demographics, I just wanted to mention this statistic that by 2030, about 21% of our population is going to be age 65 and older that's staggering.

Louis:

Right. Yeah. And the group is the ones over 85 where we really need these accommodations because we don't have enough caregivers and people don't want to be dependent.

Janet:

And I'm so glad that you mentioned that. Because that is also a huge fact that is overlooked, that there aren't going to be enough caregivers available to help people age in place. Therefore we have to plan and make other adjustments. For example. In our homes so that we can reduce our fall risk and reduce our risk for injury and therefore, live healthier. I mean, falling is one of the biggest reasons for death or injury. in people aged 65 and older. So reducing a fall is

Louis:

key. And that's where the bill really makes sense, Janet, because we have a white paper that that is associated with the coalition, but it was actually done by the nonprofit arm, the homes renewed resource center and the white paper written by Dr. Jesse Abraham a. Economics PhD who worked for Fannie Mae and Wells Fargo. And now he's really knows this stuff in and out housing and population change. And he found through some research that basically reviewing existing research papers that the loss tax revenue. From the bill, we should explain the bill, the lost tax revenues from the bill will be balanced by the reduction in falls, the cost of falls to Medicare. So the idea with the bill is that in a very simple way that you will, people will be able to use their 401k IRA 4 0 3 B TSP pretax untaxed retirement savings, but being able to use some of those monies without tax or penalty. to make these upgrades to their house. So it's, it's your money and you're just kind of shifting your money from your retirement account to your retirement dwelling. You're updating your dwelling and preparing it to be a good place for you to retire. So we have lots of us have these kinds of. Pre tax savings. They're earmarked for retirement. So below 59 and a half, you get a penalty if you use them before 59 and a half. But monies that went for eligible modifications to your home would not, there would not be a penalty on those funds for early withdrawal. And for people older those funds would not be taxed. Now they would be. So, what would happen was the amount that you spend on eligible modifications at this time would reduce your income and so reduce your tax exposure. So the net on that would be that the 20% reduction, because that's an average we use of the cost of the tax bracket, that the things that you did in your home that were eligible would cost 20% less with this. And that becomes really valuable and important, particularly for people who are a little older and have the required minimum distribution and have to start taking monies out and their taxes go up because of that, but also the really important part. Cause you mentioned, we talked about solar and stuff. The fact is that people like. Two things, people really like an incentive and they particularly like an incentive for them from the government. They don't like to pay taxes to the government. So if you can have a way to pay less tax legitimately, that's really encouraging to people to do it. So, and, and second of all Well, so the thing about the tax thing. So I had seen, before I came up with this idea, I had seen that in our area, we have a 5 cent charge for using a shopping bag. Now I have nothing never seen anything that changed behavior, quite like that 5 cent charge for a shopping bag, instead of going in and just getting a shopping bag, everything people started. Having bags in their car, bringing the bags into the store with them and stuff. Now it's not about the nickel Janet, because nobody really cares about a nickel. It's just about the idea that you don't want to pay that. So, so that one thing that people really like and incentive, they like to be encouraged. This is called a nudge and behavioral economics, but second of all, People. And there's been another recent study done by an offshoot of leading age, the big non-profit that has to do with so many senior housing facilities that people think the government should be doing something to make aging living a little easier and better. They think the government should be doing something. So this is a sample. This is an opportunity to get that. Feeling in front of people that because of the cost reduction has no net cost to the government. So once you use this tax incentive, it means that your taxes will go down for those eligible modifications. Your income will not, your income will go down. So your taxes will go down for the eligible modification. And that means, in fact that the government will get less tax revenue. And so that's very fearful for people in the government to say to their constituents that they're going to reduce revenues because it's very important that, that, that, but in fact, what this paper shows is that the lost tax revenues will be equaled. By the reduction in falls and the cost of that to Medicare. So not only will there be less misery from less falls, but there will be less cost to the government. The government pays 75% of the cost of falls. Call falls now cost $50 billion a year up to around $30,000 on average per fall. That ends up with hospitalization. And if we can reduce that substantial insignificantly. It will more than, or balance the lost tax revenues. So this is actually in theory, a revenue neutral bill to update our housing, get us more active in prepping for our own aging, avoid the misery of falls and avoid being a burden on family and other caregivers. So it spreads out in terms of what the potential reality on the other side of this incentive can be.

Janet:

Yeah, and I would add and take advantage of all of the gifts and knowledge. Passed on from older people to younger people because they're going to be healthier. Their quality of life is going to be better. And so we're going to be taking advantage of a huge demographic that has so much to offer.

Louis:

Absolutely you you've got it. That's, what's so glorious about being able to be in this field is that we, I often say I'm a school of hard knocks gerontologist, I D I didn't go to college and grad school, but I've learned a lot about this, and I've always wanted to appreciate the wisdom of older people. I drove from meals on wheels when I was on, in high school. And I remember going to visit people in their homes. And I remember the time I spent with my grandparents,

Janet:

And now Louis you've mentioned at least a couple of times the phrase eligible modifications. So what are these eligible modifications?

Louis:

I'm learning so much about this whole process. I thought this was just a simple idea, Janet, but I'm learning so much about the legislative process and the regulation process and, and I'm learning every day about it. So what I would say is that eligible modifications will be worked out in sort of a regulatory process. After the bill passes, probably a combination of things are new coalition representing the industry and people from the IRS and people from health and human services or the administration for community living. But it will be accomplishing the things that you and I talk about all the time. How do you get in easily? And safely to your home. So it should cover things like no step entries that are railings, better lighting at the door, maybe a light on the key hole, maybe a package shelf near the door, maybe a doorknob, a lever handle door knobs, or even the electronic key pad type door knobs. Right. Which allow you to use, allow someone in when you are upstairs, you can allow someone in to drop off your groceries or something like that. It also should cover things about maneuvering around within the house, which may include stair guides or elevators, but also railings, better lighting, accommodating maneuvering spaces in the house, wider doorways, possibly wider light bulbs at the end of the hallway, so to speak and better switching for the lighting, all those things included. Bedroom and of course the all-important bathroom modification. So in the bedroom, again, lighting, but also access to your storage, whether it's better closet space or better arrange clauses based, or raising a, lowering your bed, making it easy, or putting railings or bars or super poles or something next to your bed. How do you get into the bathroom? Is that also, is that about, certainly about more than door widening, but how do you access the tub safely? Can you have grab bars and things around the top. How do you use the toilet? Is it a higher toilet? Is it a lower toilet? Is a toilet with bars associated with it. Are they fold down bars? Using the sink? Can you be seated at the Singh? Is it high enough? Is it low enough? Can you see into the mirror? Where's the storage in the bathroom, all those types of things, which are so important and the all-important lighting in that, particularly that bedroom, bathroom combination. Where we see how important falls are in the middle of the night. Can we have low-level lighting that lights, that path without making your eyes kind of react so quickly? Then I go to thinking typically about meal preparation, where things stored in the kitchen. Do you have access to a lever? A good, easy faucet, maybe a. Foot operated faucet, storage of cold and non cold things, refrigerator and non cold things in the kitchen. Prep area. Can you seat, can you be seated while you're cooking? Why does Thanksgiving need to mean thing? Where do you take you even transport things to, to the table and stuff? How do you do your your sort of instrumental activities of daily living? How do you sort your mail or check your email or organizing your pills and, and all that stuff. Do you do that at the kitchen table is the chair of that kitchen table one. That's easy to get your feet under and stand up from. Is the lighting at that kitchen table? A good, I often wonder why does people have so much stuff piled on the kitchen table? Is it because the chairs are easy to get out of? Cause you got the table to push up on or is it because you've got a good central light over it instead of a light behind you? People, there's an entertainment function that occurs in your house, whether you are streaming television, or listening to music or entertaining guests. Or reading, you need to have a space that works for that. I had a client many years ago, a delightful woman. And I said, so how's mean, we'd probably done her bathroom. And she said, I said, how was everything else? And she said, well, I don't really get to read much anymore. And I said, why not? And she said, well, I've moved my chair. She thought about it for a moment. She said, I moved my chair that I used to read in closer to the entry to my living room. Because I use it as a handhold going down the hall. And now the cord on the lamp that I used to read with isn't long enough to reach that chair. So I stopped reading. So it's kind of a simple thing. To get an extension cord or get a better railing in the hallway rather than using the edge of a chair for it. But these are some of the types of questions that you actually can help people with that are simple. So after that entertainment function, which is part of having a good life, I have the big. Question about using the outdoors. So some people garden, some people just like to sit outside. Do you have a shady spot to sit? Do you have a screened in porch? So you don't have to be rubbing NATS off your face. Can you get to, I had a client once say to me he ha he we re, we were talking about re renovating the bathroom because his wife said he had trouble getting into the bathroom. He was a Sure if he was a wheelchair user or a Walker or crutches or whatever, but he was scraping his knees dragging himself across the bathroom floor, scraping his knees and his wife said we have to do something or I'm going to make him move. His knees were all scratched up and even sometimes bleeding and stuff. So we did a plan about renovating the bathroom and I, I came in one day and he said, you're all about the bathroom, but that's not, what's really important to me. So this is myself having missed the real point as the consultant on this topic. He said, if I can't get in my garden, I might as well move to that. Gosh, darn assisted living. So what was really important to this client? We talk about person centered health. What was really important to this. Was the ability to get out in his garden and we shifted and made sure that the stairs or railings or whatever it was. That's not the first time. That's not the only time that may have been the first, but not the only time that the garden was the key factor in working with people. We were going to I remember a client, we were going to build a fairly substantial addition for aging in place on this home. And the woman was really reluctant. And finally it came out. She had this great perennial. And she worried that she was going to lose all these years with this perennial garden. So we got a really top and landscaper into explain how he could transfer the garden to another spot, pick up gridded off, create the new space grid off the existing plantings and shift them all over to soil that had been conditioned and so forth in advance of that chip so that she would preserve her garden and thereby. The open to this addition on the house, which was really meant to accommodated her husband who had post-polio syndrome and who was starting to have real mobility problems. So, it's a big story with people. Why what's, what does home mean and how can we be a combination of person centered and pro.

Janet:

Yes. Yes, I agree. And I want you to talk about home technology because going back to what we were talking about just a few minutes ago, how there's going to be a lack of caregivers available to help people age in place. So really we're going to have to rely on technology. To be those caregivers that used to be there in person and will no longer be there in person because so many people are going to be older. So, and in your white paper, 2.0, you talk about that. They use of technology and having an entire integrated system into the home. So educate us on that.

Louis:

Well, I, I think that, that the, the integration from when I wrote that paper, particularly the integration has gotten much easier because Alexa has so much to do with it. And pardon me, things interact so much better than they did before. But the areas are, like we talked about the doorbell. If you can have a video doorbell that you can click to open it, rather than. I have to walk down the stairs or walk down the hallway, even to open the door, that's going to make it so much easier to allow a caregiver into the house or to allow groceries to be delivered. There is the whole monitoring function, which is so critically important that people can be monitored and they're not monitored. It's not like we're watching what you're doing. It's really that the technology looks for anomalies in your behavior. If you get up at eight 30 every morning for 28 days, and then all of a sudden, one day you're moving. You're not moving around at 10 o'clock what's what's what's up with that. Can we call, have someone call and your daughter or daughter-in-law sons, nephew, or a call center, make a call and say, Hey Dolores, why are you up late? And maybe Delores says, oh, I was watching a really good movie on TV. And I decided to sleep in that's great. But if that's not the case, we're able to monitor that. And this has to do with falls prevention. It has to do with medications because we all know that medication management can be an issue. So there are technologies that help with medication management. There are all these different technologies. Particularly in COVID we've seen the value of tele-health, which not only saves, going into the office and the dangers of going into the office, but it saves all the logistical part of getting out the door into the ride. And yet technology still doesn't always solve the problem. You need that physical infrastructure piece that you and I are really talking about Janet, because if you can't get down the stairs to open the door for Instacart it doesn't really matter that Instacart can't deliver my groceries. If you can't get the wheelchair out the front steps of your house, it doesn't matter if you have a driverless car or not. You still can't have to get to that car and get in it. Or if somebody's picking you up, if you can. Even if Alexa reminds me about my bills, if I can't get safely into the bathroom and reach up to that medicine chest, how can I take my pills? So, and a false sensor, for example is a great thing, but that's after you've fallen. So it's this pattern of anomaly and watching your behavior and checking your eyeglasses and keeping up with medication management that really avoids the fall. Which is the expense and the misery. So falls sensor. Yes. It keeps people from, rotting on the floor for three days while nobody calls them. But that's a miserable situation that we just want no one to ever have to endure it.

Janet:

It is. And I'll tell you, one of the things that I saw quite a few times was a patient that had had a stroke. Lived alone. And no one discovered them until several days later. And so they laid on the floor for several days, because several days had gone by, they weren't able to get the medication that's able to stop the lead and really lessen the effects of the stroke. So now they had severe handicaps and their life had changed dramatically, literally from one minute to. Because no one. Yeah, because they were alone. No one knew that this had happened to them until they started looking for them. Just so.

Louis:

Even if it's not a fault, just the dehydration of lying on the floor for a day and a half is going to have more impact. And, and it's not just the enormous impact on the individual, which is awful, but it also costs a lot of money. There was a time my dad, when he was a little older, before he died and, and what had the. And so he wa Denise for a couple of days. Well, he survived the flu, but then he was dehydrated and he ended up hospitalized for three days, three days of hospitalization while they were rehydrating him after the flu. So had somebody just been aware of the situation and gotten them a bottle of Pedialyte or something like that. I mean, I don't know what it is, but some, Gatorade maybe so that his election. Balanced stayed high and he stayed hydrated. It wouldn't have cost us that, and it wouldn't have cost him. Yeah, this is really important that we get a kind of a systematic way for dealing with people living in the community, because the fact is we have a hundred million existing houses and we can't build enough. Can't build fast enough. And that houses for all those older people. And we have that ongoing statistic that nobody wants to go there. And now we have the COVID experience that those aren't the safest places that we used to think they were.

Janet:

Oh, exactly, exactly. And that's a whole other podcast show, but yeah. It's true. That was, it was heartbreaking to see people that could. cause at one point, they were still allowing healthcare workers to go into the facilities. And so we were the only people that were going to visit them. They, these residents were not even able to leave their room for a meal because the dining room is a key place where viruses and bacteria and everything you know, is shared. So everyone had to stay in their room. They would receive their lunch and dinner in a styrofoam container. And the only visitors that they had was the person working at the facility that would knock on the door and give them their meal or the healthcare worker that was allowed to come in. And so it's, it's, it's, it's tracking. It is. So who wants to live like that? And that doesn't just happen once at the beginning of that pandemic that happened over and over, I experienced it at least three or four times while I was still working in home health, that the facility would shut down. Even for the people living in the independent part of the facility, it was shut down.

Louis:

So, so some of the problem with this is that, that so much of the kind of big, so this is what we're talking about is the social determinants of health, right? So the social determinants of health defined that I use, and I think I got it from the administration for community living as nonmedical, low cost, high impact interventions that routinely. Improve health, independence, and community now. So they're nonmedical, they're low cost, but that word routinely high-impact, but that word routinely is really important because it's not about what we think of most medicine, they're not medical, but most of the time we think of medicine as being reactive, as being acute as being about a condition. But if it's routinely. So it's just in the background, in the routine as home modifications and aging in place and accessibility can be, then it's not about a health condition. So this is part of the problem. While we try to help people with an assessment. A lot of people say, no, I'm not interested because they don't have a condition that they feel has been diagnosed that needs to be assessed. So, and that's why, with the idea with the bill, it's not about eligibility because of a health or aging condition. It's just about your health. About your house. I mean, it's just about the housing infrastructure. And when we get to this principle of universal design, where we kind of have an idea of what we're supposed to do in general, in the environment, not for a specific individual, but for the environment that allows us to see that this incentive would work to make kind of standardized upgrades to housing. Without it being about the personal assessment piece, because that's where we bump into resistance for proactive behavior.

Janet:

Hmm that's genius. Louis genius. So

Louis:

I

Janet:

want you to also talk about the homes renewed purple tech program.

Louis:

Okay. So there's this kind of conceptual the idea with the purple tag is that, and it came out of the idea of the energy star yellow sticker. Right. But the idea is that right now, if you go into your hardware store or your a drug store or something, and you see the aisle that says home safety. Yeah. And you don't feel like you have any safety issues in your life. You're not going to go down that aisle or it could be even worse if you think that that aisle is associated with ugly grabbed bars and falls and, and all this biased association that you have, whether it's true or not. If you think that's the case, you're not going down that. But the idea is if this aisle, instead of being called the home safety aisle, we're called the purple tag aisle. And everybody knew that using those products would reduce your income tax and reduce the cost of remodeling your home. Then you'd go, wow, let me get some of that. I did a study, which you can actually find on the homes from new resource center site a few years ago on consumer survey study. So I said to people, are you doing these things about your home? And they said, no. And they said, are, do you think that Congress. Or the government should be doing things to help people age successfully. They all across the board said yes. And then fact that is born out in this new research that I just heard about like last week that came out of leading age that people really do think the government has a role here. 77%, I think, thinks the government has rolled out. So I asked this question, it was quite a few years ago now, probably three or four or five years ago. Do you think the government should have a role? Yes. Do you think that if the government provided incentives like this, you would take advantage of it? Oh yes, of course I would. So, there are leaps that people make and the purple tag is part of giving people an opportunity to make those leaps because they're resonant for them. There's a tax break. It's going to be beautiful. And so forth and it doesn't have to be associated with the negative feelings that we have for frailty falls, aging, aunt Becky's problem. We just don't want to go into that conversation as we're encouraging people to prepare for something that they don't just generally don't picture. I often say that we, the airlines make a really good buck raising the flight. The price of a flight before everyone two weeks before everyone's vacation. And w as much as we plan our vacations and stuff, we often end up paying more than we thought, because we don't plan so well. Well, let's just get on the other side of that and help people not become better planners, but be come better. Citizen consumers.

Janet:

Yeah, I agree with you. And I want to piggyback on what you were saying about the negative stigma of having modifications made in your home. Now, this is something that I run into all the time, especially when I was working in home health and all that I. Recommend at that point was equipment because I'm not a contractor that wasn't my purpose, why I was in the home, I could only do what I could do, so I would receive resistance. And because people did not want to have a commode over the toilet or didn't want to have an ugly grab bar in their shower. So one of the big. Areas that motivates me in aging in place is to pedal the idea that aging in place design with coupled with universal design is beautiful. And it's going to increase the value of your home. It's going to make your home more comfortable for you, for people who come visit, it's going to make it contemporary. A lot of these homes, like you said, they were built in the 1950s. They needed to be remodeled 10 years. Yeah. So, we're actually doing a great thing by updating your home and then making it more accessible, more functional, and Hey, at the same time, we're also going to create a beautiful design. So tell us about.

Louis:

Yeah. So you, you said a really important word of statement there about the value of your home and how does this impact of value of your home? So, one thing that any realtor will tell you. And any home shop will tell you is if you were to be looking for a home with accessibility features, it's really hard to find. Now it's very hard. That's not usually listed on the multi list services and so forth because it's so hard for the people doing those things to understand what are the factors that would make it a, an accessible home or something. But the fact is that this is the home that people are looking for. And they're looking for it. So you're creating a home that is hard to find. That's really great. You're also creating a home is being designed, being. Prepared for the largest and fastest growing segment of the population. So all of this makes total sense from a point of value. You're not going to have to worry that your well-designed accessible home is. I'm bad on the market. It's going to be best on the market. But as you say it, it needs to be done. Well, it needs to be done attractively when people used to say to me, okay, so you say you can do these things, but is it going to look good? My answer was always, oh yes. Everything I do is magazine. And they would smile and say, I

Janet:

love that answer. I love that. Yes. Yes, that's great. And that's why I love the idea of your purple tag program because that automatically, identifies something as let's say, aging in place, universal design just like. Oh, the rainforest Alliance that, tag that you see on coffee or chocolate, that workers aren't being taking advantage of, when making this product that you're consuming. So it gives you information that is easily seen easily understood. And just, it makes the whole process so much simpler.

Louis:

That you've got it, man. You really get it. This is fun. It's fun to be doing this because nobody has put the that I've spoken to is put those sorts of fair trade or rainforest delight, or, or fish fake fish has, has put it into that category. Like you just did. Janet. Thank you so much. Oh, you're

Janet:

welcome. And I'm wanted to tell you Louis, before we end this conversation. Well, actually, and there's one more thing I want to touch on. I would love to help you in any way I can. And I also spoke with Karen Cook. I'm sure her, the founder of her Moda. She, I told her that we were going to have this interview and she also wants to support what you're doing in any way possible and using the resources of homeowners. To do something

Louis:

that is music to my buddy, because let me tell you exactly kind of where the bill is now. And thank you for that. And thank Karen. She is a member of the homes, renewed coalition. There are many levels at which you can join. You can go to the homes and new coalition.com site and join, and I encourage you to do so because. I saw that I thought I should've had, I saw that this morning when I woke up and I'm really encouraged by that. It's, I'm so grateful for it. What we need is a couple of things. We need more co-sponsors and the way we get that is that, and there are links on the site to, to reach out to your Congress person and say, please look at and support HR 7, 6, 7, 6, the home modifications for accessibility act. So we need more co-sponsors and that comes from people. Writing their congressperson visiting in their local office. When see, when the Congressman is in town, we are also looking for a Senate. Co-sponsor bill that. So if you want to write your Senator about that, it would be a co-sponsor bill. And that's really it. We need. And if you know a particular influencer, I saw someone this weekend who said, oh, I know my congressperson personally, and I'll connect you. So there's grass roots that where everyone reaches out to their Congress person as much as possible. There's what I've been taught is called grass tops, where people that you may know who are influencers are put in touch with us, or you reach out to them about this, there is. The membership and the coalition, and it's not just that we need the money, which we do desperately. I have to tell you as I said, there are many factors and functions involved in running this effort and this coalition, not communications consultant, our lobbyist, who really came up with the strategy and so forth. So the the, the, the, we need that membership because that membership is kind of an indicator of the response and the support for this to Congress, persons, or others who might be looking at it. And at the same time, One of the important things I think that we're doing that has really not been done so older consumers, consumers, over 40, over 50 citizens, let's call that call them consumers. Let's call them citizens, older citizens, particularly those who are maybe partly retired or, or fully retired and have a little time to be more attentive to issues are well recognized as consistent. Voters consistent people who are paying attention to the issues. And the read the legislators know that the representatives know that whether it's local council or mayor or whatever. So if we can become a force, I feel like we are almost that value of us as a voting force as a constituent force is hardly being harvest. And if we can bring together people together around this issue, which is a key concern to all of us and to our, the younger generations too, but because of the cost and because of the caregiver burden, but to all of us, if this is, if we can come around this, we can sort of coalesce as a constituent force that can go to other issues. Similarly and really become power. So part of this coalition idea is that we become a powerful force for the issues that face our con nation that we care about and that we can be powerful because there's a lot of them and we vote. Mm,

Janet:

and you're right. You're right. And, and it does baffle the mind that why, if the biggest group of voters that exist currently, which are older people, why aren't they getting what they absolutely need and deserve? And what you said about younger people like myself, I'm 44. I do this because I'm also aging. We're all aging. We're all going to get there. And people don't realize aging in place starts at the age of 40. And so we're doing this not only for, people like my mother, that she's 72, but in a few years, we're going to need the same services ourselves and the same, things in place. So why wouldn't I support this?

Louis:

And it's kind of interesting. Cause when I started in this field, we use the word silver tsunami, which is really not used very much anymore because of the big bulge of the baby boom population, which I'm part of. Right. But the really interesting, because we don't use that anymore because your generation and the following generation are as larger, larger. So it wasn't really going to be a ball. It's a, it was a big mountain top, it's a cone more than a bald, so you're right. These homes. If we can get homes, our housing, functional American housing infrastructure updated, ready for the fact that people are going to continue to grow older, then we're really doing a service now for generations to come, because this is not a health intervention. Is eliminated once the pills run through your body or something like that, this is an intervention. That's about the physical infrastructure that has real lasting value. This person spends the next person reaps the benefits, the next resident reaps, the benefits. One of the things we fed on, I think it's on our website still, is that to me? It seems unfair, unreasonable to, can you with all this medical science and investment in increasing longevity without also assuring that people have decent places to enjoy living and enjoying that increased longevity with dignity, having their choices respected and with joy, because I think we're all here to have fun. Aren't we

Janet:

and that's a great closing something I heard throughout my years of working in home health, I had patients that would tell me they no longer wanted to be alive because they had no quality of life. And so, that it's just, or they would say things like, aging isn't. So. And aging is tough. It is tough, to, to see the changes that happen in your body to see people around you get sick people around you die. It is not for the faint. So

Louis:

you need

Janet:

to increase quality of life.

Louis:

Yeah, there's no point. I just spent the past night, my 50th high school reunion. So I saw it, man. I saw the change, I feel the change. And we, we had older classes there, so you saw them, you saw the young ones and it, it is, but we also had a little Memorial for over 10% of our class who have already died in the past 15 years. So, they say it's not for the faint of heart, but it's also better than the old. That's what

Janet:

I always say. My, my friends because we're in our forties, they don't look forward to their birthdays and I tell them, no, your thinking is completely wrong. You should be happy that you're celebrating one more year because it's better than the alternative. Yeah, I always say that. And this was such a great conversation. I really enjoyed it. I would love to have you back on. I want to know what is happening with the bill. And I wanted to tell you, I did write to my Congress person yesterday and my husband did as well. And so I'm going to take the time to write to my Senator today and have them promote this HR 7 6, 7, 6, 7. And so what, what is going to be happening in the next few months with this? What's the timeline?

Louis:

Well, you, Congress is a kind of a I want to use the word crapshoot without saying crapshoot. So I, I guess I just have to use it. I think people don't know, people don't know. So there may be another reconciliation bill and we could be part of it if we can get our score, that where the joint committee on taxation. Decides what the cost and benefit of cost and savings of the bill might be. We're in the second phase of, of, around of that. So hopefully there's a chance that this bill will be passed this year. I think it might be a slim chance, particularly as we go along. And as we see how even though we have bipartisan sponsor, We which is just a miracle. We have, bi-partisan both democratic and Republican sponsors of the poll right now, but still moving it forward and having a cost structure is kind of, unsure. If we have a Senate companion bill, it will be even better, but we're also recognizing that this is. Above all a marathon. It is not a sprint. We've been moving more quickly than we even really imagined by getting the bill to be sponsored and bi-partisan, but probably January of 20, 23 and the new Congress, we will have some of these current co-sponsors reintroduce the bill and we will be carrying this baby. Into the next year or two and hopefully get it past

Janet:

great. I would love to, yes. And I would love to be a part of it. And so with. Oh, well, thank you. Well, a more active part of it,

Louis:

all about that Moda. Yeah. People just call or write me at Louis. Tenenbaum Dr. lewis@homesor.org. One word homes renewed go to the website. This is basically a volunteer effort and this is a committee that I'd love you to join everyone out there, listening to join the company. Coalition this effort for joy and dignity for older American citizens.

Janet:

Exactly. We can't ask for more than that. Louis, thank you for being with us today. It was a fantastic conversation.